I hadn’t talked about this previously but I am always impressed with the content updates in Firefall so far. They aren’t massive changes by any means but what they are doing well is just gradually improving what’s there and adding in new events and content. This recent changes saw a few nice additions and new content added that just gives people more options in regards to combat and gameplay styles, the world is more active and there are a lot more things to do in your downtime now.
One of the big pieces was a large chunk of land revealed surrounding an area called Shanty Town. A large but haphazard collection ramshackle houses built from scraps stands like a beacon on a nearby plateau, the neon lights shining out for all to see and beckoning you to explore. It is a nice little town for now but the lack of NPC’s makes it rather eerie feeling. The rest of the area is mostly your standard grassy knolls and mountains, streams and such with a few key structures throughout but it is still a nice addition as it gives people more area to explore and more hidden spaces for resources.
Ares missions are now interspersed through the land as well which are designed for the solo player or small group. They are easy to find on the main map by there little fist shaped icon which is nice as they take you to some new and rather interesting little hidden places. There are a few beautiful spots like crystal caves but mostly it will have you exploring many silent and unused production facilities. The mechanics usually involve you returning a key piece of technology from inside to a robot outside but even though that sounds simplistic some of these can be rather challenging. Once completed they are done for good but they still add for some interesting one time missions and a way of guiding new players to activities.
Up on top of the mountain nearby Shanty Town you are also able to pick up an item called a portable Antenna which allows you to start a new mission type. This mission type will have you running around the area to many different points trying to compete with a timer. Right now the mission type is a little incomplete, the AI of the bugs is a little off and most won’t attack and the items it gives you ( an incomplete or corrupted data unit) don’t yet lead to anything else but the prospect is still interesting. If you get the correct signal you get a quick but amusing com signal that plays out but mostly its just an easy source of exp for now.
The other area that has seen some massive improvements are the chosen and many of the larger events that happen throughout the world. Firstly the chosen are actually rather dangerous now; the AI performs much better, they have some new enemy types and they have all received new abilities to match their particular type. Fighting them is a lot more interesting now as you have to use terrain better and be a bit more tactical.
Second is that many of the events have been significantly upgraded in terms of difficulty. The melding tornado’s have improved a little but now after completion they can transfer you to an alien looking place within the Melding in a timed area that is rich in materials. I haven’t been a part of this much but the first time was very hectic. The biggest change was towards the Chosen Incursions. They have more defined phases now that involve a combination of attack and defense, before you were able to solo these but now because of the defense mechanic you have to be a lot more active in killing chosen. There is no real way to fail as your progress to destroy it won’t be lost, it can just take a little longer. Lot’s more chosen spawns now too so be careful and definitely group up for these.
The other thing added was a nifty little mechanic of being able to design your own LGV (the motorbikes) racetrack and implement it out in the world for other people to try their skills with. It ranks the fastest people against each other which adds a nice competitive level to it. It has a certain despawn timer but will remain in the world for as long as people are using. There are usually quite a few around during busy times and are to be enjoyed by everyone regardless of whether you have an LGV or not.
Much of changes seem like quality of life improvements but quite a bit is expanding the available activities in the game in a way that is both rewarding and enjoyable. The game was rather on the lite side when I started but with the improvements it is getting the game keeps getting better and better with a larger land mass to explore and many events and activities to suit different playstyles or moods. The focus towards exploration and a more sandbox style of content gives the game a decent long-term appeal and with the world being constantly expanded on this is only going to get better.
GW2 rant time
It is weird as originally this is the direction I thought Guild Wars 2 would be going in; creating a larger world for people to explore and making these new areas meaningful for people to continually go to. Creating new enemies and events and just generally improving the world experience. This is what they were talking about doing during beta but so far there updates have been completely the opposite. What they have been doing over and over again is adding limited time experiences that while bringing players back for a short burst does nothing to improve the overall gameplay and experiences throughout the world. Tyria is an amazing place to explore, truly beautiful and yet this key asset towards the game is mostly being forgotten.
I have already said how much I adore the dynamic events system even if it is simplistic at the moment and constantly repeating itself, it can be more and, from the originally design approach Anet thought so as well but then after release all these events have received is basic bug fixing. The Dragon fights are still so far beyond challenging, many events still don’t have the consequence and world changing aspects that was planned, and the amount and differentiation of these is still lacking. A design approach towards limited content is not what suits the game, sure it’s ok for a game like WoW who has had years to build its breadth of content but here it leaves your game world, the place where players are continuously going and playing in lacking mystery, challenge, and replayability.
Red 5 have even been talking about the chosen events and improving them into some sort of deep RTS strategy kind of thing. events that are dynamic and constantly reacting to players and as much as I really enjoy Firefall I would have so much more loved this system in GW2. A world truly alive and responsive to players actions is what I think we envisioned for GW2 and it fell short of that aim, and yet they aren’t improving that… their development approach and goals away from the potential of a dynamic world seem extremely bewildering and so so maddening to me.
Oh and here’s more pretty Firefall pics as well.